BY LEAH MAURER
Pedal Bike Tours has offered historical tours of the Portland and Honolulu areas via people-powered transportation since 2007. On October 1st, 2015, when early adult use/recreational marijuana sales began in Oregon, they launched a new project, Portland Pot Tours.
Sarah Gilbert, who has been with the company for almost two years, came up with the idea and said it was a “slam dunk with the staff…everyone loved it! And the response we received from the cannabis industry was excellent.”
Tour attendees visit two dispensaries, two glass shops, and make two snack stops. Gilbert adds that the tours are almost entirely filled by people visiting Portland from out of state and the first guest they had was from Japan!
We began our tour from their bike shop in Old Town, and rode along the waterfront, across the Steel Bridge to the east side of the Willamette River, where we stopped by a statue of a woman named Vera Katz. There, Gilbert gave the history of hemp in Oregon. The tale started in the 1900s, touched on the who’s and how’s of cannabis prohibition, and wrapped up with the role of Vera Katz. In 1972, Katz ran for state representative in Oregon and won on a platform of marijuana decriminalization. She then successfully helped champion decriminalization in 1973.
We hopped back on our bikes and rode down to Cannabliss & Co. This dispensary is housed in a building recognized by the National Historical Society, as it was a firehouse built in 1913. It was also as the first medical dispensary to open in Portland. At this stop, Gilbert shared the history of both medical and recreational legalization in Oregon.
Our third stop was at Salt and Straw Ice Cream after a cruise through Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, where Gilbert gave a brief history of the gardens and Mr. Ladd himself.
Afterwards, we walked over to Rip City Remedies, a dispensary that has been in business since 2011. Co-owner of the shop Scott Grenfell said, “We try to stay involved in the community and the neighborhood here, and the bike tours have been great!”
Next, we rode out to The Third Eye glass shop where Gilbert gave attendees a brief history of The Third Eye. He explained that the shop was opened by Jack Herer and how his son Mark is running it.
“The tour attendees are cool, they wanna hear all about the history and learn, and we encourage the whole thing!” said Scott Batdorff, manager at The Third Eye.
We walked over to Mellow Mood, another glass shop, to look at the world famous pieces and local glass art they have on display. Shop manager Amy Leikos said, “people enjoy learning about local and national glass artists, and it’s fun to teach them!”
The last stop on the tour was to the Potato Champion food cart after a ride through Sherret Square, the first painted intersection in Portland. As the tour ended, we road back down to the waterfront and took the Morrison bridge back over the river before returning to the bike shop.